Bad Habits In Hockey
At tryouts, especially in junior hockey, one of the traits coaches look for is coachability and a lack of bad habits. That is because they don’t want to spend time making players unlearn their bad habits. That is why when you train for your tryouts or others, it is essential to keep an eye out for bad habits.
The worst bad hockey habits include being too selfish with the puck and the ice time, skating past the net prematurely after shooting, making a slow u-turn after losing puck possession, and passing the puck blindly instead of keeping your head up.
The rest of this article covers each of the bad hockey habits in detail, including:
- Trying to score every goal by yourself
- Avoiding changes despite being exhausted
- Looking down at the puck at all times
- Not starting an immediate chase when opponents get the puck
- Shooting the puck like a golf swing and making it pass over the goalie
- Getting too anxious upon receiving the puck and passing it immediately
If you’re looking for ways to get noticed during tryouts, please read our article titled “How To Get Noticed At Hockey Tryouts - A Quick Guide“.
Hockey is carried by a team, and it is the team that wins the Stanley Cup. Even the celebration parade with the trophy includes players hoisting the cup one at a time. This is a testament to how much it matters for a player to have great chemistry with teammates.
The goal hog is likely to have a negative relationship with other players and may develop poor passing skills. In such a case, the player doesn’t even try to pass the puck when he has a chance, which can lead to high turnover.
You can spot a player turning into a solo player when he tries to sprint across the ice and finds himself among multiple opponents. The player also usually has a low pass rate.
Players have to understand that coaches know best when it comes to team effectiveness. Because of personal bias or the need to prove themselves, some players will try to keep their shift and avoid changes.
The difference between a novice and a seasoned player really shows when the smart player requests a change while the shift hog tries to maximize his personal time while potentially making the team lose.
You will flush out these players by seeing their tendency to continue to be on ice despite being exhausted.
This is a goalie-specific habit that has to do with bad practice, not proper play. While it seems like a body dive would be a great way to block a puck given the body’s surface area; however, it doesn’t work that way. In fact, the body’s mass is what creates a delay, and the fast-moving puck can pass easily underneath.
This may lead one to believe that a body flop is an excellent idea for slower pucks. However, you should note that diving from the butterfly position makes it challenging to deal with any rebounds. Once the goalie has committed to this move, it will take time to get back into place to stop any future shots if the puck hasn’t been cleared out of the zone.
This habit is most prominent among players who rely on speed instead of physicality to score most of their goals. Because they prefer speed, they are likely to hesitate from stopping, and when they reach the net and strike the puck, they turn away and keep skating.
This means any chance they have of getting the puck on the rebound is brought down to zero. To fix this habit, they must practice skating at high speed and stopping in front of an obstacle until it becomes instinctual.
It is vital that when you lose possession of the puck that you stop abruptly and turn around for a high-speed chase. Unfortunately, most players are too scared to lose a moment and thus keep skating so they can make a U-turn. The U-turn involves them skating towards the opponent’s goal while they don’t have the puck.
This isn’t the ideal way of handling the situation. Furthermore, it adds distance between them and the opponent, who is already maximizing the distance by skating in the opposite direction. Technically, the advantage of keeping momentum is cancelled out during this maneuver. Therefore, you should exercise high-speed stops so you can change direction quickly whenever a puck is turned over.
When a player first starts stickhandling, he may not be very effective at maintaining the puck’s possession. As a result, players overcorrect and zone-in on the puck without looking up or around. The first disadvantage of this habit is that the puck-watcher often finds himself in difficult spots and at a strategic disadvantage. Who wants to be surrounded by opponents with nowhere to make a pass?
The second disadvantage is that the player only relies on his ears to know where to pass the puck. This can work in close range if the other teammate is vocal and asks for the pass. However, in loud arenas, the noise can make this impossible for the puck-watcher.
When players aren’t vocal, the crowd is chanting, and opponents are loud, it becomes even harder to know where to pass. You can spot a puck-watcher by noticing how almost all of his passes are in a general direction and not to a specific player.
This is one of the habits that has a reasonable rationale yet results in poor execution. In theory, as slippery as ice is, it provides higher resistance than the air. As a result, many players want to lift the puck, especially when shooting for a goal.
Not only does a lift have the advantage of shooting for the top corners, but it also provides enough power to the puck that arbitrary body-blocking is less likely to occur since players are afraid of getting the puck in their faces. However, most of the time, this results in the puck flying over the goal.
The inability to break this habit can make one a bad player and a liability to the team despite having excellent dodging skills. If a player finds himself lifting the puck too much, he should immediately work on learning how to create proper lift (shooting with the wrists turned over and the stick’s toe pointed at the puck’s target).
This will take time, and a player shouldn’t do this during games unless he has mastered it. And while a high-flyer is learning to break the habit of hitting the puck like a golf swing, he can pass the puck to a teammate during higher-stakes games.
Just like maintaining the puck possession too much is terrible for the team-work and strategy, so is not keeping it long enough. Whether one should retain control of the puck, dump the puck, or pass it to a teammate must be a strategy-driven decision.
While the ego is the culprit for trying to solo-score, panic and anxiety are why most players will pass the puck immediately upon receiving it. This starts to happen more and more during high stakes games, especially towards the end. It is advisable to have stress-management exercises off-ice to maintain your calm.
When you don’t have the puck, you should be on the move to receive it or to get open. Even as a defender, when the puck isn’t around, you should be in motion, so you’re better positioned to block a long-distance shot. More importantly, standing around will only contribute to making the game boring.
Hockey players rely on instincts to make most of their decisions. That is why they must avoid bad habits like the ones mentioned above. To recap and summarize them, let’s go over the key things to avoid:
- Don’t play with your ego.
- Avoid keeping your eye only on the puck.
- Don’t pass the puck emotionally.
- Make sure you aren’t too slow in turning around when the puck is turned over.
It may also be worth taking a read through our article on how to tell if your kid is good at hockey to find out traits of great players.
- UCSD: 9 Bad Habits That Can Put You at Risk for a Sports Injury
- Women’s Hockey Life: How to Correct Bad Hockey Habits
- Sports Engine: Six Bad Youth Hockey Habits